BREAKING fast during Ramadan is a beautiful experience.
Our Muslim community abstains from food and drink from dawn to dusk, bringing together family and friends to share delicious traditional Malay food at the breaking of fast.
Nothing beats home cooking, but when dining out it would be a treat if the dishes turn out just the way ibu or mum used to prepare.
Terazza Brasserie at Sheraton Subang Hotel and Towers is of those outlets where the dishes are based on traditional home recipes.
Catfish cooked in thick coconut milk with cili padi served at the outlet is drawing the crowd this Ramadan.
The dish was the idea of Chef Zul Hiszam Zakaria who has 15 years’ experience in preparing fish dishes.
“It took me eight months to come up with the recipe. It is only until I was satisfied with the taste, texture and aroma that I offer it to the guests. It is not easy to cook fish as at times the fish available may not go well with spices or easily disintegrate while cooking,” he said.
Most men swear that eating catfish gives them an “extra edge in bed,” said Zul from Kedah.
“For this dish, a generous portion of garlic, ginger, cili padi, shallot and turmeric are blen- ded together in a paste. It is left aside, while oil is heated. The sweet smelling paste is then sautéed to a light brown colour,” he said.
Zul added that as soon as the aroma filled the kitchen, it was time to add coconut milk and this needed a litt le experience.
”While the coconut milk is boiling add some seaweed salt according to taste. As the 250ml of coconut milk simmers in the claypot, the 600g catfish is placed inside and left to cook,” he said.
The dish was ready in 18 minutes.
Zul said it cooked fast as the fish is fresh and it is a young fish with a tender meat texture.
“Tt is a simple and a tasty Negri Sembilan dish to enjoy with toasted garlic bread or even hot white rice,” he said.
A secret Zul shared is to wash the fish with tamarind juice to remove the “mud smell” - typical of fresh water fish.
Another dish in Zul's tattered “brown exercise” recipe book is the zingy Selangor dish of catfish with red chili.
It’s spicy and the generous use of garlic and tomato paste brings out the taste of the fish.
Zul said red chili, garlic, lemon grass, tomato paste, chili sauce and salt are blended and the ingredients sautéed.
A little water is added to turn it into a thick sauce.
“While the sauce simmers in the claypot, the fish is deep-fried until it turns crispy and golden brown,’’ he said.
“Then it is placed on a plate and boiling sauce poured on it,” said Zul, adding that guests savoured the crispy tail and head.